The Last Voyage of the Demeter is the cinematic retelling of the Captain’s Logs from Bram Stoker’s original novel, ‘Dracula’, in which the ship washes ashore in England completely derelict and without any surviving crew. The film follows the crew of The Demeter as they sail from Romania to England with unknown cargo aboard from an unknown master. After a stowaway is found beneath the deck and is discovered with bite marks in her neck, things take a turn for the horrific as something begins hunting down the crew one by one. This is a bloody and serious take on the Vampire who started it all and a great mature adaptation of Stoker’s work.
Director André Øvredal has taken a fantastic approach to showcasing Dracula and all of the powers he possesses and utilizes when hunting his prey. Unlike a fair number of Dracula adaptations, we see more of the monster in his true form and never venture into seeing the human form he takes on in order to blend in. Using real prosthetics and actor Javier Botet’s creepy movement, Count Dracula is reborn in a horrifyingly real portrayal that blends bat with beast and rounds it all out with large beady eyes! I was absolutely freaked out the first time they show the creature lurking around the shadows, stalking the crew and waiting for the opportune moment to feed. Despite looking like the Nosferatu style vampire we’ve all seen, this newest iteration breathes new fear into the mangled teeth and talons that pair with its massive wings, proving that sometimes realism is more effective than CGI.
Corey Hawkins plays Mr. Clemens, an Englishman who studied to be a doctor and medical practitioner and who has found himself in Romania after being invited to help with new illnesses. However, the color of Mr. Clemens skin keeps him from practicing his profession in a time where white men still controlled most of the power in the world. He “lucks out” by finding passage aboard The Demeter and is given ample opportunity to put his skills to the test when horrific killings begin to take place on the ship. Hawkins plays Clemens with a big heart, ignoring the white men who wont take him seriously and bonding with the child and stowaway as he tries to determine what could be causing all these killings. Hawkins has a knack for serious characters and plays so well opposite these crewman who have no sense beyond the money they’re hoping to make by keeping course. His character is very detective like in the way he studies the bodies and surroundings, making for a great exploration of early Vampire mythos.
The Last Voyage of the Demeter makes terrific use of the R-Rating by creating an atmosphere full of despair and confusion, effectively showcasing the pure terror that Dracula can strike into his victims in a number of ways. There’s a ton of blood that’s spilled in a way that never becomes overly gory, but still serves the blood-sucking narrative and makes for some genuinely scary moments. Much like the vigilante Batman, Dracula uses his surroundings and his inherent stealth to break down the spirits and sanity of his victim’s, creating one-on-one moments that are the stuff of legends. I was supremely impressed by this adaptation and I sincerely hope that this is the direction more directors and studios take when dealing with the stuff of monsters and beasts, as this is very serious material meant for an older audience!
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